Rocío Márquez: “I spent years trying to justify everything, now what they think is great” | icon

Rocío Márquez, who has just created 'Tercer cielo' (Universal) with the artist Bronquio.
Rocío Márquez, who has just created ‘Tercer cielo’ (Universal) with the artist Bronquio.Angela Suarez

Rocio Marquez (Huelva, 37) is one of the most cultured cantaoras of her generation. She started singing as a child, knows the classical repertoire by heart and is a doctor. cum laude with a thesis on vocal technique. However, he assures that all this knowledge would be sterile without physiological particularity. “I somatize very quickly, for better or for worse,” he explains. “When I start putting fences on the pitch, when I use the knowledge to put slabs on myself, I notice it because all of a sudden I’m doing shitty performances, I walk off stage and I’m like, ‘Not this way.’

He says he began to trust his intuition following his first creative crisis, after winning the Mining Lamp at the age of 23 at the Las Minas Cante Festival, the temple of Orthodox flamenco. “The Lamp opened many doors for me and I’m very grateful for that, but I spent a whole year repeating the same songs. I was breathing in the same places! I had the feeling that I was giving to playAnd that’s something I wouldn’t wish on anyone. Over time I realized no one told me I had to do it this way, the responsibility was mine alone, but there came a time when I couldn’t even breathe. And I decided that was not the case.”

Márquez’s new work illustrates the way out of this crisis: flexibility, dialogue and experimentation. His name is third heaven and he created it in tandem with Bronquio, the stage name of Jerez-born musician and producer Santiago Gonzalo. Part of the critics have already hailed it as one of the most important flamenco albums for years. Its integration of electronics is not tendencies neither cosmetic, but hard-hitting: an attempt to make electronic music like someone who makes flamenco, and vice versa. “We didn’t fall into platitudes, and I think that’s because we both have curious profiles in our unions,” Gonzalo explains. “Agreeing to compose was very easy, but for mixing you had to find a common point. We achieved this through mutual respect and a desire to open up to the unknown”.

In third heaven, a dense, compact and suggestive sound shows that consensus is not always synonymous with lukewarm. For example, it’s unusual to hear Márquez’s voice distorted by a barricade of filters. “I don’t even wear reverberation on the monitor, so you understand me, I like to hear even the friction of the string,” he explains, alluding to sound engineering tools that add depth and echo to the recording . In third heaven hay reverberation and synthesizers, but also old songs that illustrate the scholarly facet of an artist who recorded classic songs with guitar and cajon (Seen Thursday, 2019) to a feminist exercise in minimalism without guitars (Firmament, of 2017, with Raul Refree) and several collaborations with Renaissance and Baroque specialists, drawing on the etymology of flamenco like someone looking for the sources of the Nile.

This is where the scientist emerges. “Until the 1930s, new melodies were being created,” he explains. “Over the past 50 years there has been a creative explosion in which flamencos have been immersed in creation. The concern for structuring, making diagrams and seeing which branch of the tree is missing came later”. He cites as an example the debla, a cante which serves as the basis for Big, one of the songs from the album. “La debla is a song with a very definite origin, but since it is a dry song [sin instrumentación] It is often said to be one of the oldest, and a wonderful myth is created there, because flamenco is partly made of pure fantasy. Why not play with this fantasy and this paradox, if that’s what scares us all? “, he underlines.

“It amuses me when our work is called renovation, because that seems to me to be an older practice than packaging.” Does orthodox criticism keep you up at night? “Fortunately, I feel like I have already turned that page. I spent years trying to justify everything, but now I think that’s what everyone thinks. Just as I want the freedom to do what I want, I also want everyone to express themselves freely.

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